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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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A&M defense stalls in second half against Missouri

Guard+Andre+Gordon+had+a+career-high+19+points+against+Missouri.
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Guard Andre Gordon had a career-high 19 points against Missouri.

Texas A&M men’s basketball struggles in conference play continued on Saturday in Reed Arena as the Aggies’ defense played dead in the second half, allowing No. 17 Missouri to come out on top, 68-52.
Although only trailing by three at the end of the first half, A&M struggled to make a stop or to keep up with the Tigers’ scoring in the second. This loss drops A&M to 2-3 in the SEC and 7-5 overall.
“I thought the first 15-ish minutes, maybe even 16, we kind of started and played the way we left off in Starkville,” A&M coach Buzz Williams said. “We closed down the half without much energy… I thought we started the second half worse than we ended the first half… Defensively we’ve struggled. Way too many points in the paint, too many offensive rebounds, but not obliterated on the glass as we have been at times… Offensively, just no groove, no rhythm. We can’t be up seven and then down 18 in a 15-minute span.”
Through the first half, A&M kept the game tight, led by the scoring of sophomore guard Andre Gordon who had a career-high 19 points with 3-of-3 shooting from deep. Although A&M’s shooting was lacking in the first half, solid defense and a slow pace limited Missouri’s as well.
A&M shot 31 percent from the field and 33 percent from deep compared to Missouri’s 44 percent from the field and 33 percent from deep in the first half. Forcing 10 turnovers and grabbing six offensive rebounds helped A&M stay competitive.
Gordon said Missouri’s lax helped him lead the Aggies in scoring on the day.
“I’m just playing within the team,” Gordon said. “Their defense, when they’re coming off the ball-screens and stuff like that, they weren’t helping that much so I was able to get my shot off. I hit two early threes in the game and it kind of built more confidence down the stretch of the game.”
Sophomore forward Emanuel Miller was prevented from reaching his usual double-digit scoring performance by tight Missouri interior defense. A large part of that defense was Missouri senior Jeremiah Tillman, who had three blocks on the night.
Miller was still able to have a solid presence on the glass, posting nine total rebounds and four offensive boards. While Miller normally excels from the free-throw line, shooting an average seven shots from the line, he was held to only two foul shots on the day.
“We just have to be basketball players,” Gordon said. “Everyone here who’s in this program was recruited at highschool to score the ball, to rebound the ball, to play basketball. When E-Man [Miller] is not able to get his shots up, E-Man does a very good job at rebounding the ball, facilitating, playing good defense. He just does the little things when his scoring ability is not where it should be at just because of them taking it away knowing that he’s a great scorer.”
Mizzouri’s Tillman, and particularly his size at 6-foot-10, presented trouble for A&M not just defensively, as he also scored 14 points in addition to 10 rebounds and a steal.
“I think any player that can pass, dribble and shoot and score, regardless of size, is a matchup problem for us,” Williams said. “Anybody that can force rotation… is going to cause problems. He [Tillman] for sure does that, and when werent in rotation we were okay. I think that he’s very efficient at what he does and how they [Missouri] utilize him.”
The Aggies improved upon their shooting in the second half, going up to 37 percent from the field at the final horn. Missouri matched the improvement though, also going up to 49 percent from the field.
“[Missouri] stayed consistent with their energy throughout the whole game,” senior guard Jay Jay Chandler said. “We had some lapses as a team where our energy wasn’t there, to where we needed it to be. We’re going to have to come in next week and try to improve that.”
Next on the schedule for the Aggies is Vanderbilt on Wednesday, Jan. 20 where A&M will travel to Nashville to take on the 4-6 Commodores.

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